Death Cap – Seven – A Glimpse Into the Dungeon
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Death Cap - Seven - A Glimpse Into the Dungeon

“The Ditz Dungeon,” Markham said as he stood up. I watched him walk over to one side of the room and paused before a tin filing cabinet. He exhaled as he knelt down and opened one of the drawers with a metallic clang. “Let’s see... I think I have... yes.”

Standing, Markham walked back to his desk, but he stayed on the same side I was on. He slapped a folder down onto the desk, then opened it and pulled out a piece of paper. He placed it before me. It was coffee-stained, a printout of a map.

It was all black, the lines representing walls done in white, with a grid over the entire floor.
“First floor,” Markham said. He reached into the breast pocket of his shirt and pulled out a little red pack of cigarettes. He lit one with a matchbook he pulled from his pocket, then he used the cigarette to point to the map. “This is an old one. We don’t do much dungeon-related stuff. Hells, you can keep the maps, we need newer ones anyway.”

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“Thank you,” I said. I had to stand on the tips of my toes to see the page. “It looks small.”

“Each grid square is ten or so paces across,” he said. “You could drive two carts next to each other in those corridors.”

“Oh,” I said. “What’s the threat rating mean?”

“I would think that part is obvious. Low means not everything down there will try to kill you. Medium means everything will. High means that everything will try to kill you, and it’s likely to succeed.”

I nodded slowly. Dangerous, then. I knew that much, but it wasn’t bad to have it confirmed. “So, there’s spiders, rats, and spider sheep down there? What’s a spider sheep?”

“Eight-legged sheep. Not actually a threat. If you’ve ever eaten a can of spam made local, then you’ve had some. And it’s spider rats. One thing, not two. Those are dangerous. Or as dangerous as any rat, I suppose. Heard they can grow pretty big.”

“How busy is the first floor?” I asked.

Markham pulled from his cigarette. “Very, I suppose. Traffic in and out, heading to deeper floors all day. First two floors get entirely stripped over the day. Third and lower takes a good while longer to be worked on.”

I nodded. “How deep is the dungeon?”

“I don’t know,” he said, the ignorance easily admitted to. “At least ten floors, maybe more. Most working crews never get past the fifth floor.”

That was invaluable to know. “And the threat rating increases the deeper you go, right?”

“Not necessarily, but as a general rule of thumb, yes.” I think he saw the question in my eyes because he continued. “Some floor’s threat is a non-issue. A floor filled with poisonous fog can be ignored with a decent mask, for example. Some floors only have traps, and sometimes they’re all the same. Dungeons change though.”

I nodded. “Another question.”

“You do seem full of them.”

I grinned. “Thank you! So, when does a dungeon reset?”

“Overnight, usually. Or after a few hours of no one being on a floor. It’s why the dungeon clears out overnight, and why you’ll get fined if you get caught in the dungeon and happen to survive overnight.”

“Right,” I said. I opened the file folder. There were a few more papers, but a glance over them revealed that they were mostly lists of items extracted from the dungeon. Not immediately useful to me, I didn’t see anything I could use. I pulled out the second floor map and stared at it for a moment.

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There were the goblins I’d heard about. I took the page and set it to the side after looking it over. The second floor was clearly quite a bit bigger than the first.

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“Spiders... various?” I asked.

“Lots of them, yes,” Markham said. “They weave things with these silk ropes that are quite valuable when harvested. And the floor has several small copses of trees that are cut down and dragged out of the dungeon every day. Wood’s worth a fair bit nowadays, even if it’s just going to be turned to coal.”

I nodded along, filing that information for later, in case it came in handy. I didn’t know if it would, but you never knew what you might need to know.

“Thank you,” I said. I was about done here. I’d gotten pretty much everything I wanted. A trade deal of sorts had been struck, I’d get the opportunity to prove that I was useful to the Union, and I got more information about the Ditz Dungeon than I’d hoped to get at the onset of coming here.

All decent steps forward.

Revealing that I was tied to Feronie wasn’t great, but... well, it was done, and I couldn’t undo it. I raised a hand towards Markham and he glanced at it for a moment before shaking. “Thank you again, Mister Markham,” I said. “Don’t you worry, I’m going to work as hard as I can to make this city a better place.”

A lie. I was going to burn this cesspool down. But I was going to work hard to do it. Flinging torches around wouldn’t help right now, so I still needed to grow stronger.

“Did you get everything you needed, little crusader?”

I considered that for a moment. “One more thing. The Bluertons.”

He shook his head. “You’re going after more than you can chew there.”

“I just want a nibble,” I said with as innocent a smile as I could manage. “Maybe you happen to know where some of them live?”

Markham hesitated, then he raised his voice. “Gary! Jannet, you can come back,” he called out.

The door opened a moment later and Gary, the silent guard, and then Janet walked in. The silent guard went back to his corner while Gary looked me up and down, then took in the rest of the room. Was that concern I noticed?

It... kind of made sense. He’d left a child in a room alone with an adult in a position of power. As disgusting as the idea was... well, I would have been suspicious in his place too. He didn’t know that if anyone tried anything with me, I could blight their balls off.

“Gary,” Markham said. “Kid has some beef with the Bluertons.”

“Who doesn’t?” Gary asked.

Jannet scoffed.

Markham was a little more professional. “Indeed. I want to see what the kid gets up to. Fill them in on whatever they ask about the Blues.”

“Yes, sir,” Gary said.

I nodded to Markham, thanked him again, then picked the dungeon maps and files off the desk and stuffed them in my satchel. I followed Gary out of the room a moment later. “So, Gary,” I started. “Your friend, Dregs? Will he try to kill me again?”

“No. Not unless you call him a goblin again.”

“He said he was a hobgoblin? What’s the difference?”

Gary grunted. “That’s right. Hobs are born outside of dungeons. Bigger, usually. Smarter too. Technically they’re their own people. They don’t like dungeon goblins. Hate them, really.”

“Why?” I asked.

“It’s complicated,” was all he said. “Most dungeon-caught goblins will be servants at best, factory slaves at worse. They’re kind of dumb though. You need three of them to do the work of one lazy man, and they’ll shy away from anything too complicated. They give hobgoblins a bad reputation.”

I kind of understood. We were dealing with some weird fantasy racism here. I wasn’t sure what to do or think about it. “Well, I’ll say sorry again then. Does he like mushrooms?”

“I don’t.”

I jumped and spun around. Gary and I were leaving the offices. Dregs was sitting by the base of the staircase, hidden in the deeper shadows there so that all I could see of him were his glowing eyes in the dark.

“You scared me,” I said.

“Then grow a spine,” he snapped.

We glared at each other, but I didn’t think it would come to anything.

Gary shook his head and stomped down the steps. “So, the Blues. What do you need to know about those asshats?”

“Where they live,” I said. “Just one or two of them.”

Dregs chuckled. “Oh, you’re vile,” he said. “But the higher ups here don’t want us doing that kind of thing.”

I frowned. “You don’t know what I want to do,” I said.

“Burn their house down while they’re sleeping?” Dregs asked. “Ambush them in the middle of the night? Eat their dogs?”

I scowled. “I wouldn’t eat their dogs,” I said.

The hobgoblin chuckled. “Bosses all say that if we start retaliating at their homes, they’ll return the favour.”

“Well, I’m not a part of your union,” I said.

Dregs stared off to the side, then he chuckled again. “So you’re not.”

I grinned at him, and he grinned back.

Gary shook his head. “And here I thought you two would hate each other for a while longer.”

***

Too lazy for author's note, have Bun instead

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